Disclaimer: I don't own Saiyuki, Romulan Ale, or the neck-pinch.

Notes: Honestly, I don't think Hakkai's spine and claws are this well integrated into his psyche (he'd probably be all abashed about it, anyway). But wouldn't it be fun if they were?

Again, I apologize for any formatting problems and point accusing fingers at QuickEdit. This is crossposted on my journal and my site, so go there if you have problems--but please don't forget to review?

Happy holidays, and I hope you all have a gentle winter.


-Come the Morning-

by Nightfall


Oddly enough, the bone-wracking pain didn't feel like an actual head injury. And when he cracked his eye open, the light attacked it with spears and daggers, but there were no abnormal glows around anything. So the chances were good that it wasn't a migraine. His stomach roiled, but it was an unusually contained nausea, more a sense of rejection than of illness.

Whatever this was, an infusion of qi probably wouldn't hurt.

His own energies weren't soothing to him, as others seemed to find them, but they got the job done. And since the temple he had learned to meditate at was Kinzan and while his face was healing, no amount of pain or noise could distract him.

Orientation returned as his head cleared. This was unfortunate. As his sense of time and space returned so, unfortunately, did his awareness of the previous night.

He didn't think he was in for death by gunshot. It had been perhaps, ah, unwise of him to paralyze that assassin of Gyokumon Kaishou's from behind and take Goku's permanent marker and write 'My lady lord is a thief and a coward and a social mountaineer' all over his stripped body.

But, well, Sanzo's eyes had bugged out (an expression to remember on cold nights) and he'd turned away with high, tight, unsteady shoulders instead of putting an end to it. And besides, Yaone-san had told him all about the empress, and she thoroughly deserved it. And if something came of it, better sooner than later, perhaps, and while they expected it.

But although Goku and Gojyo had joined in after the first initial moment of jaw-dropping disbelief, scribbling 'party-crasher' and 'I attack drunk baby monkeys' and 'who you calling chibi-saru you lousy cockroach' and ' --See? I -lose,- too!' and such in smaller handwriting around Hakkai's smooth calligraphy, he might be in for trouble in that department.

The chocolate-chili cocoa had seemed like such a good idea at the time. He was almost sure he had read somewhere that the Aztecs of Atlantis did something like that. Only he hadn't had any chili, so he'd had to substitute wasabi, and he might have overestimated. And it had looked so much like the beginnings of a usual brown sauce that he seemed to remember adding soy sauce and ginger and garlic and then, as Goku turned funny colors and shoveled cold rice into his mouth at tremendous rates and howled betrayal, tasting the results and saying how much it reminded him of Sanzo—

Oh, dear.

And Goku's chocolate had landed all over Sanzo, and, well, perhaps casually ripping his robes off him and making a sort of toga for him out of the inn's curtains in the middle of the common room hadn't been very tactful, no matter how much the color suited. He was probably in trouble everyone for that, because Goku had very definite ideas about who was allowed to tear Sanzo's clothes (Goku) and so did Sanzo (no one), and Gojyo had ideas about who Hakkai was allowed to tear clothes off of. But at the time no one had actually -objected...-

Only because they were all busy scrambling away.

And he remembered feeling very hurt by that and grabbing Gojyo by the seat of his pants and demanding an explanation, and he wasn't at all sure what had happened after that, but all of his limbs seemed to be intact, so perhaps someone had mercifully knocked him from behind.

Only, there hadn't been an actual head injury.

Oh, dear.

He squirmed experimentally. Yes, he was indeed tied to the bed. With his own layman's sash, but not with the usual easily-escapable knots. Hm.

"You can let me out now," he said calmly.

"Sorry," Gojyo's voice said, unapologetically. He turned his head to look, but saw only a defensive lump of blankets next to him.

"It was probably for the best," he admitted.

"No, I mean sorry as in like hell I'm letting you out until I'm sure you're back in your right mind, because damn if I can tell the difference."

"Oh," Hakkai said, dashed. "Was I that bad?"

The blankets cracked long enough to reveal a glaring crimson eye.


"Catch us trying to get you drunk again," Gojyo snarled.

"It seems to have worked," Hakkai noted. "May I ask what it was?"

"Dunno," Gojyo said shortly. "It was blue. You got all -patient and reasonable.- We're talking some scary shit here, Hakkai."

"So I gather," he agreed ruefully. Blue? "But really, you can let me out. I've already purified my bloodstream, and I think I'd better start breakfast."



"And what," Gojyo asked menacingly, "would you make for lunch?"

"Nothing fancy," Hakkai said meekly and then, just because, added, "Perhaps some ramen with mayonnaise and chutney, and perhaps I could apologize to Goku with, hm, if I mixed the rest of that cocoa with some mashed bananas it might--"

"Purified my ass!" Gojyo yelped.

"That sounds interesting," Hakkai said mildly. "Before or after lunch?"

A strangled, high-pitched noise emerged from the blankets. "Listen, pal," Gojyo sputtered, "If you think for one minute--"

But Hakkai was already smiling. "Gojyo," he said, a laughing, soothing reproach. "My apologies. I couldn't resist. We'll order from the kitchens, of course. And nothing worse than sukiyaki tonight, I promise."

"Fuck you," Gojyo said sulkily.

"If you like," Hakkai said agreeably, perking up. "I probably owe you an apology, as well, and as I don't seem to be going anywhere..."

"You bet your ass you owe me an apology," Gojyo snarled, and threw off the blankets. "You owe me a dozen! You fucking -paralyzed- me, you bastard!"

"Ohhhhhh," Hakkai whispered, entranced, and tried to reach out to touch. The scarf held him back.

Gojyo's hair was bound in a thousand little braids, neatly waterfalling down to his shoulders like delicate strings of tiny pine berries. Oh, he wished he remembered doing that. And how he was looking forward to taking them out... It would be a new kind of 'kinky' for Gojyo. At least he'd had enough sense to aim a few of them down over Gojyo's face, to preserve his scarred friend's sense of privacy.

But more than that, winding over Gojyo's naked skin, someone had bitten a very familiar leaf-and-vine pattern, and it went all the way down.

"-Go-jyo," he breathed, and strained against the scarf, his fingers blossoming a yearning ache. And not just his fingers.

Gojyo was looking at him, looking as though he'd been cut off, the floor sucked away. He hesitated. "I thought you were going to apologize," he said gruffly.

"I take it back," Hakkai said, tugging his wrists impatiently. "I regret nothing. But let me out and I'll thank you."

"Nuh-uh," Gojyo said firmly, but a corner of his mouth was tugging up. "You're a dangerous man, mister. You can thank me right where you are."

"I expect," Hakkai said, smiling thoughtfully, "that I can."